This is the time of year when talk of resolutions is rampant. Everywhere you look, friends are sharing their aspirations for the new year and planning their goals. While I applaud that, it’s also important to understand that for those of us with anxiety, new year’s resolutions can further exacerbate matters. One person’s goal to lose weight can easily become another’s downward spiral fueled by self-criticism and unreasonable expectations. If this sounds like you, it’s important to frame your resolutions in a way that works for you and doesn’t perpetuate the problem. Here are some tactics I personally have found to be helpful.
- Keep it about you. Resolutions and self improvement aren’t a competition. Stop comparing your goals to those of your peers or friends. Hone in on what’s important to you. (Pssst, this will also help you stay committed to it.)
- Create bite-size goals. Anything is more daunting when you focus on the overall end result. Instead, set incremental goals. For example, if losing weight is important to you, don’t tell yourself you are going to lose X amount of weight by year’s end. Instead, commit to exercising every day for a set amount of time.
- Be flexible. Goals that are set in stone can often cause more anxiety. After all, life happens. Can’t meet your exercise goal for the day because of the flu? Allow yourself to make it up a different day. This leads me to my last bit of advice …
- Practice self-compassion. Too often, we are far more compassionate and understanding with others than we are with ourselves. Unfortunately, self-criticism is the fastest way to kill your goal. Instead, go easy on yourself and be as supportive as you would be for a best friend or child.
This year, join me in making the resolution to make better resolutions.